Subject: It's a beast, all right.
Posted on: 2020-05-08 13:57:56 UTC

I am making progress on the mission, albeit very slow progress. I've had the first mission segment mostly written for quite some time; I'm just not comfortable releasing it before the whole thing is finished.

Tell you what, though... I've also been working on a continuation/conclusion of the original, failed mission, to tell the story of what went wrong. It's also not finished, but in honor of the occasion, I'll share a chunk of that. It has some mild swearing, but is otherwise SFW.

Subjugation: What Came Before

“What do you mean, it’s gone?

Two house-elves wearing tea towels and two Gryffindor students in black robes stood in the seventh-floor corridor next to the painting of Barnabas the Barmy. Nobody looked very happy, not even Barnabas.

“Not there,” said Gunny, the female student, who had brown hair in pigtails. “It is no more. It has ceased to be. This is an ex-Room of Requirement.”

The larger house-elf growled and was quickly restrained by the smaller before he could do anything rash.

“Flip says it’s inside a plothole,” said the male student, Wayne. His fluffy, cherry-red hair stood out, but he had refused to change it. “Apparently it’s never mentioned in the story, despite the fact that it’s such an obvious solution to several problems. And that’s not the only thing.” He waited uneasily to see if any violence was impending.

Suicide, the big, scarred house-elf, took a deep breath and forced himself to relax, one muscle at a time. “Okay. What’s the other thing?”

“Jo and Shae haven’t turned up,” said Gunny. “We’ve waited for hours, but there’s no sign of them. We think they must have cut and run.”

“Can’t say I blame them,” muttered Wayne.

Suicide grinned. It didn’t touch his brown, bulbous elf eyes. “Well, that’s just peachy. More work for us, and no nice, comfy home base to rest in. We’re off to a great start, aren’t we, Dio?”

“It could be worse,” she said nervously, and immediately clapped a hand over her mouth. “Oh, shit. Quick, somebody knock on wood!”

Suicide obligingly rapped his knuckles against her head.

“Har har.” Diocletian glared at him and rubbed at the spot.

“Actually,” Gunny said, “Flip was getting a headache from looking at the plothole too long, so she and Rez went to radio for backup from Classroom Eleven. That’s home base now. Let’s go see if the new guys are there yet.”

The four agents headed down to the ground floor. Suicide and Diocletian changed into student disguises on the way, since it would look a bit odd for house-elves to be palling around with kids. Gunny blushed hard at buff, dark-haired, eighteen-year-old Suicide and just managed not to trip over her own feet. After that, she migrated to the front of the group and kept her eyes firmly on the hall ahead of her. Wayne shot Suicide a dark look and put himself between the two.

In other circumstances, Suicide might have made the situation more awkward just for fun, but he didn’t have the energy at the moment. He’d been looking forward to forty winks in a decent bed, prefaced by more Bleepsinthe to numb the pain of badfic enough to sleep, but all he was gonna get now was a cold stone floor. He hadn’t packed any camping gear, and since they’d lost Dio’s pack, they were out half their usual supplies.

“Have we considered the nuclear option?” he heard himself saying. “Portal over to the Pentagon, grab any loose tactical warheads, blow this thing and go home?”

Wayne glanced over his shoulder at Suicide and, apparently deciding he must be joking, shook his head and continued without a word.

“No such luck,” said Dio, who knew better. “If you don’t want to find out what the Flowers do to agents who get captured, I really don’t want to find out what they do to agents who blow up a castle full of innocent students.”

“Casualties are an unfortunate but unavoidable consequence of war, Dio.”



They reached Classroom Eleven without incident. Gunny rapped on the door. It opened a crack, just enough for a suspicious pale-green eye to peer out at them.


Gunny rolled her eyes. “Rez, it’s me.”

“Password?” Rez repeated more insistently.

“We didn’t set a password!”

“Well, we should have,” said Rez. “A real PPC agent would know that.”

“Sweet Kami-sama.” Wayne crossed his arms and tapped a foot. “Come on, Rez, before somebody sees us!”

“Or gets hurt,” Suicide added grimly.

Rez took this on board, but still hesitated. “I dunno . . . ”

Before anyone could explode, Gunny snapped her fingers in inspiration. “Zaphod is a hoopy frood!”

“Yes he is.” Rez pulled the door open. “Come on in!”

The four agents filed in with assorted filthy looks for Rez. Once the door was shut behind them, they dropped their disguises.

Suicide sighed with relief at being back in his own skin. Tattered and at least nine percent artificial it might be, but he was used to it, and three disguise changes in as many hours was a bit much. That taken care of, he surveyed their new base of operations.

Since the fic was set during Harry’s sixth year, but had been written before the release of Half-Blood Prince, Classroom Eleven wasn’t sure whether it was meant to retain its appearance as it had been under Firenze or revert back to a traditional classroom. As such, it retained most of the appearance of a forest clearing, but the log seating had been replaced with desks, and there was a blackboard suspended between two trees. The walls seemed to fade in and out, and if you were quick, you could just catch a cupboard out of the corner of your eye before it turned back into lichen and mushrooms.

“Cozy,” the Scythian remarked, “if slightly nauseating.”

“Believe me, I’m not happy about it either,” said Flip. The short, brown-haired floater was seated at a desk, massaging her temples with her eyes squeezed shut. “It was just the first place we could think of where we weren’t likely to run into anyone.”

“Guys, where’s our backup?” Gunny asked, looking around. “Couldn’t they find anyone?

“The SO said he’d put out a call for volunteers,” Rez answered, “but shockingly, no one’s responded so far.”

Dio shook her head. “That’s the trouble with kids these days. No sense of civic obligation.”

“There have to be some other schmucks he can drub into service like he did us,” Suicide said, shrugging. “In the meantime, civic obligation be damned: I am getting some sleep.” He looked around, picked a likely patch of moss, and tossed himself down onto it.

“It’s still technically our turn, though,” Dio said. She chewed her lip anxiously. “Buggrit . . . ”

Gunny exchanged a look with Wayne. He shrugged. She nodded.

“I guess we could watch it for a little bit,” she said. “It doesn’t look like there’s any more slash tonight,” she added to her partner.

“Are you sure?” Dio asked, but it was just for show at that point. Her partner, possessing the ability of all military men to fall asleep anywhere, had already begun to snore.

Wayne nodded. “We’ll spot you a night, no problem. You can pay us back later.” He gave a thin-lipped smile, clearly attempting to be friendly in the face of a task he was not looking forward to at all.

“We will,” Dio said. “Thanks.”

Gunny transformed herself and Wayne into house-elves, and they left. Dio lay down near Suicide and tried to get some rest while Rez and Flip kept watch.

* * *

Meanwhile, the Sunflower Official searched high and low, and with the help of the Floating Hyacinth, he turned up a pair of floaters to replace the missing assassins. This brought a pleasing symmetry to the teams. Also, the Hyacinth had been troubled by these two lately. Sending them on what looked to be a nice, long mission would give her a break from having one or the other in her office every other day.

They entered Classroom Eleven by portal, bickering.

“This is entirely your fault, you know,” said the first one, a woman.

My fault?” barked her irate, male partner. “You’re the one who agreed to the job!”

“If you hadn’t applied for a transfer, I wouldn’t have had to.”

“Insane logic like that is exactly why I’m transferring, Cameo!”

By this time, they’d woken Diocletian. She sat up groggily and squinted around the room. She found Rez and Flip, who answered her inquiring stare with helpless shrugs. They were on their feet, prepared to greet the newcomers, but the arguing pair were oblivious.

“You just don’t get it,” Cameo pouted. She was short and stocky. Her brown hair was done up in a messy bun run through by orange chopsticks. She had sunglasses, also orange, perched on top of her head. Most of what she wore was orange, save for a short black skirt and a small, tight black vest with a Floaters flash patch sewn onto it. She would have been at home among traffic cones.

Her partner, by contrast, was tall and pencil-thin with short, neatly gelled black hair. Everything about him proclaimed that he was a geek of the first order. Most PPCers were geeks, but this guy had everything but the pocket protector: the glasses, the gray pinstripes, the shoulders slightly rounded from crouching over endless books, and the pallor that suggested he had dwelled in basements and libraries for most of his life.

“I get that you’re probably trying to kill me,” he said. “If you can’t have me, no one can? Is that it?”

“What? No!” She shook her head, then paused and put a finger to her lip in thought. “Though that would be romantic, wouldn’t it? But no—I just thought this could be our last big adventure together, so we had to do it. And since we’re supposed to stay for the whole thing, maybe it’ll give you time to change your mind!” She beamed up at him.

“I’m not going to change my mind.” He folded his arms. “And if you try to make me, people will know, so don’t even think about pulling anything with the neuralyzer.”

Cameo sighed theatrically. “Oh, Numey. That stopped being fun, like, forever ago.”

“Yeah, because I caught on. Don’t forget it.” The man, “Numey,” finally looked away from Cameo long enough to take in the three agents staring at them. He took a deep breath and squared up his shoulders. “Hi. Agents Supernumerary and Cameo, Floaters. We’re your ringers.”

Only Nume and Cameo are properly mine, though I've more or less adopted Su and Dio at this point (and I really hope I'm doing them justice). The rest belong to their respective creators.


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